"Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Damage Intensity Scale" Saffir, Herbert S. and Simpson, Robert H. (1971)

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"Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Damage Intensity Scale"
Herbert S. Saffir and Robert H. Simpson (1971)

URL: http://www.weatherwise.org/qr/qry.scale.html

SITE SUMMARY: This Scale was invented by Saffir, an engineer and expert in storm damage to buildings, and by Simpson, a weather expert and Director of the National Hurricane Center. The Scale's purpose is to characterize hurricanes' intensity by using as criteria the amount of observable damage done to buildings of different sizes and to parts of nature such as shrubs and trees, both with relation to a storm's pressure, and wind speed, plus the surge of coastal waters in a storm's path; all on a numbered scale ranging from minor to catastrophic. This Web page, part of the Web site for Weather Wise: The Magazine About Weather, provides the Saffir-Simpson Scale data as it first appeared in print, and as it has appeared yearly since then. It also features the scale's history as explained by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) meteorologist Thomas Schlatter who consulted with Saffir in the year 2000 to provide an answer to a question sent to Weather Wise.


  1. How many categories of hurricanes did Saffir and Simpson suggest?
  2. What are three natural features that hurricanes in every category share, but each in its own way, as bases for determining hurricane categories? State specifically how these natural features are different for each category.
  3. Describe some "effects" or "damages observed" that Saffir and Simpson identified with each hurricane category which the natural features noted in Question/Activity no. 2 above influenced.
  4. Identify each hurricane category and each key word that identifies each type of damage a hurricane in each category causes. (Hint: See also the Web page NOAA's About the Saffir-Simpson Scale at the Hurricanes: Nature's Greatest Storms Web site whose url is cited in the Related Internet Sites section below.)
  5. If a current hurricane does the following, which rating should it have? Its winds are one hundred twenty-five miles per hour, the ocean's surge is ten feet, the sea floods inland eight miles, and large buildings are damaged by floating debris. (Hint: See also the Web page with NOAA's About the Saffir-Simpson Scale; found as cited in the Hint for Question/Activity no. 4 above.)
  6. Visit the weather news areas of the Web sites Disaster Center—Hurricane Index Page, Center, NOAA—Hurricanes: Nature's Greatest Storms, the Weather Channel Web Site, CNN Storm Center—Hurricane Tip Center, and the National Hurricane Center of the National Weather Service. (Their urls are cited in the Related Internet Sites section below.) Follow the Saffir-Simpson Scale and give details of a current hurricane, and one of the recent past.
  7. Go to the Web sites for the NHC/TPC Archive of Past Hurricane Seasons, and Five Hundred Years of Hurricane History at the Sun-Sentinal: Hurricane. (Their urls are cited in the Related Internet Sites section below.) Choose a historic hurricane. Following the Saffir-Simpson Scale, give details of your chosen hurricane, and if possible, give a quotation about the storm by a historic person who was an eyewitness. Imagine you were an eyewitness to a storm noted at a Web site cited in Question/Activity no. 6 above, or in Question/Activity no. 7, then write a one hundred- to two hundred-word "eyewitness account."
  8. What should you do if a hurricane comes to the place where you live? (For help, see the following Web sites, and especially some of their special areas. Disaster Center—Hurricane Index Page [noting its "Standard Family Disaster Plan" and "Prevention Guide to Promote Safety and Health"]; the Hurricane Tip Center at the CNN Storm Center [particularly its "Is Your Home Ready For A Natural Disaster?"]; and Q and A with Herbert Saffir. [Their urls are cited in the Related Internet Sites section below.])
  9. See the Web site with the Weather Wise meteorologist's answer to a question someone asked about the Saffir-Simpson scale. When and where did Saffir first suggest aspects of what would become main parts of the hurricane scale, what were these parts, and what was the type of document in which he presented his ideas? Which part of the scale did Simpson suggest? Which publication provided the scale's first appearance in print, and when? Which way was the scale first used, and when? What existed before the scale to describe a hurricane, and what was its feature?


Disaster Center—Hurricane Index Page


This site provides links to data on recent previous hurricanes; plus, via its Weather Sites link, data on current hurricanes. Other links go to "Why Talk About Hurricanes?" "The Standard Family Disaster Plan," "Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety," and Hurricane Science for Kids, Hurricane Hunters, Education Hurricanes, Hurricane FAQs plus Hurricane Q and A, FEMA—Fact Sheet: Hurricane, Hurricane: The Basics, a version of the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, Hurricane Watch Net, the National Hurricane Center, and more. The Weather Sites link leads to a page on forecasts, with links to sites with current or recent weather information for each U.S. state.

NOAA—Hurricanes: Nature's Greatest Storms


This Web page, provided by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association online features links to Hurricane News, and Hot Topics. Other links go to NOAA pages such as the National Hurricane Center, the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Lab, the Pacific Hurricane Center, satellite images, weather-related organizations, and products such as Hurricane Basics, and FAQs. Under products, see also the links to About the National Hurricane Center/Tropical Prediction Center, interesting fact-based NOAA's Hurricane Story Ideas, and another version of the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale (found at http://www.srh.noaa.gov/FTPROOT/EWX/html/saffir.htm with each damage category's key word, plus storm surge identified).

Hurricanes—Online Meteorology Guide


This site includes a video of an aerial view of a hurricane and links to information such as hurricane definition and growth, stages of development, structure, movement, damage and destruction, plus hurricane tracks, hurricane hunters, satellites and hurricanes, and hurricane preparation. The ability to fly through a hurricane or interact with a hurricane via special software, downloadable here or at other sites with links here, are provided. See also a version of the Saffir-Simpson scale on the hurricane information page at http://ww2010.atmos.uiuc.edu/(Gh)/guides/mtr/hurr/stages/cane/home.rxml provided by the Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Chicago, Urbana-Champaign.

Hurricanes: How They Work, What They Do


This site provides a version of the Saffir-Simpson Scale, and Did You Know? facts, plus questions and answers, and a link to Find Out More About Hurricanes.

CNN Storm Center—Hurricane Tip Center


See: Hurricane Tips, Hurricane Terms (e.g., Hurricane Watch, Hurricane Warning), Timeline of Deadly U.S. Hurricanes, Is Your Home Ready for a Natural Disaster? Top Weather Stories (at far right), Storm Watch e-mail, the Hurricane Intensity box (with Saffir-Simpson Scale features), a recent year's hurricanes, and related sites.

National Weather Service—National Hurricane Center


Note the links to Top News of the Day, Latest Information, Active Tropical Systems (of the storms that often become hurricanes), Tropical Weather Outlooks, Marine Forecasts, Sea Surface Temperature Analyses, News and Information, Current Season Summaries and Reports, Tropical Weather Discussions, and additional resources. See also the links under "Get Storm Info," "Learn About Hurricanes," and "Hurricane History."

Weather Channel Web Site


Note the Weather Center's Top Stories with the next day's national weather forecast, News Links, and Seasonal Links (e.g., Storm Watch), plus What's on the Weather Channel, Connect with Your Weather (e.g., with regard to your health, recreation, home and garden), and, available via special download, Getting Weather Reports Sent to You.

NHC/TPC Archive of Past Hurricane Seasons


The National Hurricane Center and the Tropical Prediction Center, with Todd Spindler of the NHC and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association, provide this site which includes links to information on Atlantic, Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico Hurricanes from 1958 to the present; Eastern Pacific Hurricanes from 1988 to the present; Hurricane History in the Atlantic; Some Infamous Atlantic Storms; the Deadliest, Costliest and Most Intense U.S. Hurricanes of the Twentieth Century; Deadliest Atlantic Hurricanes, 1492 to the Present; Central North Pacific Hurricanes from the 1880s to 1999; Hurricane Tracks, Hurricane Season Forecast Verification Reports from 1995 to the present; and Hurricane Season Climatology.

Sun-Sentinel: Hurricane


This Web page that is part of a southern Florida newspaper's Web site, features the latest news and information about hurricanes, a meteorologist answering questions, storm survival, and stormtracking. A Learn More area features links to Hurricane Science, Hurricane Science News (e.g., "Hurricanes Have Followed the Career of the Scale Inventor"), and Five Hundred Years of Hurricane History (e.g., the 1800s, when scientists began to understand hurricanes; 1495–1800s, when Christopher Columbus and Benjamin Franklin recorded their observations of storms, including some quotations here; then the 1950s to the present, and new ways of predicting hurricanes).

Beaufort Wind Force, Saffir-Simpson Hurricane, and Fujita Tornado Intensity Scales


A detailed outline of scales relating to winds from calm to devastating, based on and comparing the Beaufort Wind Force Scale developed in 1806 by Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort, the Fujita-Pearson Scale for Tornado Wind Intensity proposed in 1971 by T. Theodore Fujita and Allen Pearson, and the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale.

Saffir-Simpson Page with the "Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Intensity Scale"


The scale as adapted from the undated The Hurricane and Its Impact by R.H. Simpson and H. Riehl (LSU Press).

Miami Museum of Science—Hurricane: Storm Science


At this Web site for young people, which features information about hurricanes, see the icon links to "Inside A Hurricane," "Killer Storms," "Survivors," and "Weather Instruments," plus Current Weather Data, and a Hurricane Hotlist. Note also a teacher's guide and a "healing quilt."

Risk Frontiers—The Saffir-Simpson Damage Potential Scale


A version of the scale, plus background notes on the contributions of Herbert Saffir, Robert Simpson, and H. Riehl, including something not in the Weather Wise 1974 paper.

An Interview with Dr. Robert Simpson in the Mariners Weather Log, April 1999


(html version via title search at google.com)

Q and A with Herbert Saffir

http://www.sunspot.net/news/weather/hurricane/sns-hc-saffirqanda.story and at http://www.newsday.com/news/weather/hurricane/sns-hc-saffirqanda.story

A June 24, 2001 interview of Saffir by the Sun-Sentinel, a Southern Florida newspaper. Features Saffir's comments on how some work he did for the United Nations, and his being a structural engineer, led to his inventing a part of the hurricane scale, plus how he and Simpson started working together. Other comments are on recent hurricanes, and what people should do if this type of storm comes to where they live.

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"Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Damage Intensity Scale" Saffir, Herbert S. and Simpson, Robert H. (1971)

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"Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Damage Intensity Scale" Saffir, Herbert S. and Simpson, Robert H. (1971)